81-year-old Andy completes 124-mile Great North challenge

published on 11 Sep 2023

Andy Peddle

It was no ‘walk in the park’ for the 81-year-old grandfather who completed a mammoth feat, first walking 111 miles, and with barely a pause for breath, finishing the Great North Run - all to raise money to help The Salvation Army support survivors of modern slavery. 

Andy Peddle’s eight-day charity walk started from his home city of Wakefield, West Yorkshire, on 2 September and ended in Newcastle on Saturday 9 September before he took part in the UK’s biggest half marathon on Sunday. 

Wearing his signature top hat, Andy’s route took in Leeds, Harrogate, Ripon, Northallerton, Darlington and Sunderland, during the late summer heatwave last week, ending with a welcome party at The Salvation Army’s Newcastle City Temple Corps the day before the race. 

Andy, who has two children and four grandchildren, who joined him on route, said: “It was no walk in the park! I think I underestimated how difficult it would be and at the end of each day I definitely needed a lie down! 

Andy Peddle
Andy with North East Divisional Leaders David and Gillian Burns and Newcastle City Temple Corps Officer Major Liz Hancock

“There were some hairy moments where we were walking along roads with lorries whizzing past us, but we kept the pace and people who joined us managed to keep up with me, although I think that was because I was going slower than I used to when I was younger! 

“The toughest day was when we ended up having to do 20 miles. Psychologically I was prepared for 16, but then my walking partner said we had another four miles to reach our next stop. Somehow that knocks the stuffing out of you, but we got there. It was lovely to reach Newcastle City Temple Corps on the last day where I had a welcome party.

“The Great North Run was astonishing. A couple of miles from the finish line there was a torrential downpour and at the bottom of the hill a great big puddle you could have done backstroke in! I ran more of it than I expected so finished a lot quicker than I thought I would, managing it in three and a half hours. The atmosphere was amazing. There were people running who were mourning a loss and then you have all the crowds cheering you on, it was very emotionally charged, an incredible experience.” 

Andy Peddle

No stranger to a challenge, Andy completed the London Marathon in 2015 for The Salvation Army. He also did a 7,760 mile walkathon a decade ago visiting more than 900 Salvation Army churches, charity shops and 92 football grounds to raise money for victims of modern slavery. In the 1990s he completed an 8,020 mile walk to raise funds for victims of drought in Ethiopia, Sudan and Somalia.

The idea of this challenge was to have others walk alongside him as he aimed to raise £8,100 - a hundred pounds for each year of his life - to be donated to The Salvation Army’s work with survivors of modern slavery and to youth projects in the North East. 

Andy, who volunteered with The Salvation Army’s modern slavery team as a driver transporting and accompanying rescued survivors to safe houses, continued: “I feel passionately about doing this because I am passionate about what The Salvation Army does and what it stands for. It is the church I belong to, but it has this vision of helping other people which has been there since the start. I’m glad to be part of that vision and do my own little bit, to do it at my age and encourage other people to do it too.”

Andy Peddle and Liz Hancock
Andy and Major Liz near the start line of the Great North Run

Andy hopes his challenge will also raise awareness of human trafficking. The Salvation Army provides support services to help adult survivors of modern slavery rebuild their lives through a network of safe houses and outreach workers. 

Major Kathy Betteridge, Director of Anti Trafficking and Modern Slavery for The Salvation Army, said: “We are so grateful to Andy for undertaking this incredible challenge to support survivors of modern slavery as they rebuild their lives following the most horrific exploitation and abuse.”

You can sponsor Andy here 


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